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How to Make Men's Shoes Dressier: 3 Helpful Tips

Imagine you're heading to a fancy summer event, and you need to look your best. You've picked the perfect suit, and your hair is just right. There's only one thing left to choose —your shoes. If your favorite shoes are a pair of sneakers or casual loafers, you may be worried they aren’t the best choice for a more formal occasion. Fear not! If more casual-looking shoes are your go-to style, there are ways to dress them up. This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of making your men's shoes dressier, so you'll be ready to impress at any event.

In this guide, we'll cover different types of men's shoes from sneakers to boat shoes, and offer tips on classing up your casual shoes for a formal look. We'll also discuss what clothes to wear and when to wear different types of shoes.

How to Style Your Outfit to Dress Up Your Shoes

New Balance Men's Shoes Black

Accessorize Wisely

Even men can add accessories to make their outfits or shoes seem more elaborate. A belt, tie, or even a pair of socks may seem small, but they can still have an impact. Adding a belt that coordinates its color with your shoes, a simple pocket square, or a tie in a contrasting color to your ensemble can go a long way.

Pay Attention to the Details

Small details can make a big difference when it comes to dressing up your shoes. Formal events typically require your clothes to look well put together and not faded or worn. If your shoes don’t follow these same requirements, it’s noticeable. Always choose clean and well-maintained footwear, and make sure your laces are unfrayed and unraveled. If necessary, swap out worn or frayed laces for a fresh pair. Furthermore, consider adding a subtle shine to your leather shoes with high-quality shoe polish.

Coordinate with Your Outfit

The clothes you wear with your shoes unmistakably play a significant role in your footwear's overall dressiness. So be sure to pair them with the right outfit. Tailored and well-fitted pants, a crisp button-down shirt, or a stylish blazer will pair nicely with all kinds of typical casual footwear. Stay away from overly casual clothing like cargo shorts, graphic tees, or baggy pants, as these types of clothes will not give off a formal vibe.

Understanding Different Types of Men's Shoes

Men's Shoes loafer in tan


Sneakers are a common shoe choice due to how versatile and comfortable they can be. However, they are rarely considered appropriate for a formal or dressy function. Luckily, you can still make them look more formal with the right tweaks. First, choose sneakers with a neutral color and little or no design. Avoid shoes with too many bells and whistles, such as studs, buckles, or loud or bright colors. Simple and classic styles will look good with a variety of outfits. Look instead for colors like black, white, grey, or tan. Next, make sure your sneakers are clean and well-maintained. A dirty and scuffed-up pair of kicks will stand out in a bad way at a classy event. Finally, choose tailored pants or dark jeans with a button-down shirt to pair with your sneakers. This will give you a smart, casual look. Adding a blazer to

your outfit can also add more formality.


Since it’s summertime, sandals are a frequent shoe pick since they help your feet feel cooler. Sandals can even be considered the embodiment of summer footwear, but unless you're attending a beach wedding they're not always the best choice for dressy occasions. If sandals are a must for you, choose a pair made from high-quality leather in a darker color like brown or black. Try to steer clear of very casual styles like classic flip-flops or sports sandals. To dress up your sandals even more, wear them with tailored pants or chinos and a lightweight button-down shirt. Our shoe of the month, the Birkenstock Arizona Black, is a great choice as a sandal that can be dressed up. Its black color, quality leather material, and metal pins give it a polished look that works well for formal events. Your feet will also enjoy Birkenstock's patented footbed and make your formal event even more enjoyable. Uncomfortable feet can quickly ruin anyone’s good time.

Boat Shoes

More than just a shoe worn by the water, boat shoes are a great pick for formal events. Boat shoes are another classic casual footwear option and they can also be dressed up with the right styling choices. Traditionally, boating shoes are made out of leather. As noted previously, leather alone already adds a formal feel to your shoes. Similar to sneakers, start by choosing a pair in a clean, solid color like navy, brown, or black. Make sure that they are in good condition without any signs of wear because, again, that would belittle their dressiness. Pair your boat shoes with tailored pants or chinos, a collared shirt, and a blazer or sports coat.


Unlike the above shoe choice, loafers are already inherently more dressy. They can still be improved upon to look even more formal. Opt for a pair in a sleek style, like a penny or tassel loafer. Continue to choose darker colors like black or brown. A high-quality leather or suede material will also add to the dressiness of your loafers. Wear them with tailored pants, a crisp button-down shirt, and a blazer or suit jacket to complete the look.

When to Wear Different Types of Shoes

Formal Even man putting on loafers

While we all wish we could always wear our sneakers or sandals, there will be times when that’s just not possible. Some events simply require a certain kind of shoe.

Formal Events

For a black-tie event, stick to classic dress shoes like oxfords, derbies, or brogues. These shoes are the most appropriate choice for suits and tuxedos and will ensure you look polished and put together. If those aren’t possible, try to stick with at least a loafer or boat shoe.

Semi-Formal and Smart-Casual Events

For semi-formal or smart-casual events, you have more flexibility in your choice of footwear. The best choice is still your loafers or boat shoes, especially when paired with tailored pants and a blazer. If you're set on wearing sneakers remember to make sure they're clean, minimalist, and in a neutral color.

Casual Occasions

For casual occasions, feel free to wear your favorite loafers, boat shoes, sneakers, sandals, or even flip-flops. Just remember that even in a casual setting it can’t hurt to keep your footwear clean and in good condition.

In conclusion, dressing up your casual shoes doesn't have to be a daunting task. At the end of the day, shoes were made to support our bodies as we move and keep our feet from being injured. So wear the style of shoe that makes you feel most comfortable. With these tips in mind, you can elevate your footwear for any occasion. Use this guide as a starting point, and you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of making your shoes dressier. Need a new pair of sneakers, sandals, loafers, or boat shoes? Stop by Boger’s Shoes and we’d be more than happy to fit you into the perfect pair of shoes.

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